Defending the 'public interest': an assessment of competing actor representations of 'solutions' to growing natural resource deficiencies.

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Skillington, Tracey
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London School of Economics and Political Science
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This paper applies a SRT framework to the study of two case studies, namely the recent campaign of opposition to the legalization of hydraulic fracking in the State of New York and the more ongoing debate on land leasing in Africa. In relation to both campaigns, the analysis accounts for the arguments of a major financial institution and industry representatives who stress the safe and value-adding dimensions of these practices, as well as the views of opponents who refute the validity of industry's position and point to the unacceptable risks posed to the community, health and the environment. In spite of a number of obvious differences between these two case studies, not least differences arising from contrasting socio-economic and geo-political settings, there were also some notable similarities. First, was a tendency amongst protesters in both cases to formulate their role as contemporaries in a historically extended struggle for democratic justice. All perceived of themselves as guardians of their community's right to resist a corporate 'invasion' of their territories, like their forefathers and mothers before them. A theme of colonialism was explored in both settings through various identity and thematic anchoring devices that deliberately evoked shared understandings and historical memories of exploitation and human suffering. The evocation of powerful symbols of identity through visual narratives of protest further reinforced the cultural comprehensibility of opponents' message of protest in both contexts.
Social representation , Justice , Identity , Liberty
Skillington, T. (2016) 'Defending the 'public interest': an assessment of competing actor representations of 'solutions' to growing natural resource deficiencies', Papers on Social Representations, 25(1), pp. 3.1-3.28.
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